It is factors of absence from a position of utter visibility that Sonja Yakovleva and Murat Önen conjure questions of power and representation: impossible places, untold stories, lost images and artistic practices that are excluded by a patriarchally organized high culture. How to produce from a paradoxical position?
Sonja Yakovleva is a German artist, interested in the mechanisms that manifest themselves in a largely male-dominated, high culture. Using techniques and materials that are often associated with handicrafts rather than high culture, she dissects cliches of beauty, power and art. Yakovleva confronts the intricacies of the gendered gaze in her work by exploring its material and historical blind spots. Impossible positions, quirky protagonists of untold histories, and fictional tales of a glorious female past form the multi-layered backdrops of her studies of absence.
Working in large-format, technically precise papercuts, which is often marginalised and ill-reputed as “kindergarten-art,” serves Sonja Yakovleva as the medium for an elaborate and excessive opposition of historical obliteration. Yakovleva also performs in her feminist rap collcective “Die Romische Votzen” and on her instagram video channel @kv_television, where she humourously reports from various art world scenarios. She began painting in 2016, after being triggered by the need to encapsulate her surroundings while on vacation by the ocean.
Turkish painter Murat Önen creates snapshots of a strange silence in the midst of great noise. Touching on topics of masculinity and gender identity in his pared-back drawings and paintings, he presents an unmistakable intensity of rich motifs depicting human relationships, the body and sexuality, as well as subtle nuances that offer clues to the artist’s thoughts, motives, and desires. Experimenting with light and colour to elicit an emotional response to his experiences of loneliness, closeness, absurdity and humour, Önen displays an intimate and sentimental view of these past encounters.
Murat Önen’s passion is DJing, which provides the inspiration for his current series of paintings, relating to the vibrant club culture and nightlife in Germany. The artist aims to reveal what takes place in these private spaces and why people find them so appealing, translating these discoveries into his work. By choosing to omit elaborate figures and stylisation, Önen creates a certain spontaneity and looseness, that expertly simulates a club environment.